As I crashed my husbands car last week it became painfully (for the car…not me) obvious that I was being given a sign. A second sign. The first sign was me crashing my own car two days earlier. No…wait. The first sign was far more subtle. It all began in the Montessori school car park, 2 weeks ago.
Faith, who sits in the front with me, loves the car. We have adventures and songs and a great time together getting to where we have to go. As I plonk her down with the same sound effect I use every day, she laughs and thinks I am hilarious each time. She has never planked, never screamed to get out and never struggled to get free as I strapped her in. You can imagine my horror then when racing from school to our next ‘activity’ Faith refused to get in the seat. What??! What the hell are you doing?? Whats wrong? We have to go!
No way Jose.
So I sat there with her as she climbed all over me, laughing, playing, making cute noises and pointing at the birds. Great! She is happy again! Lets go!
Back off Jose.
Hmmmmm. Besides holding her down with all my weight as she screamed, which if you have read my stuff before you will gather, isn’t my style, there was little I could do.
Ten minutes we sat there…..frustration gave way, I gave in and started to play. We had fun just playing in the front while the rain poured outside and I was ever so grateful I didn’t have other kids to pick up or an urgent meeting to get to. As I lost myself in the gorgeous laugh of my girl, the twinkle in her eyes up close to mine and the sloppy kisses she gave me as we sat, she all of a sudden jumped in her chair and was ready to go. I thought this was strange but it wasnt until later reflection that I realised what she was trying to tell me. SLOW DOWN. As a first time mother with little family I have made a point of having a plan each day – somewhere to go, someone to see – god forbid we should be stuck inside alone for hours on end! I know Im not alone here. So many mums I talk to say the same thing and I wonder how different and stress free our lives would be if we focused more on community living and working with our children….but that’s a whole other post. So in the flurry that is our week we had ended with school on the Friday and Faith had had it. Enough with the racing, enough with the running around. I thought about it and its true – with so many activities booked we never just ‘hang’. We dont just play, sitting around and blowing raspberries on each other. I forget that some times she laughs the most when we do the dishes together, or play in the sheets as I make the bed. Her and me time. I feel sure that’s what she was missing and the only way she could tell me was to refuse to let me race off to wherever I was going.
I was aware that life had been speeding up. A friend has recently ‘un-friended’ me (to steal a term from Facebook) because I didn’t have enough time for her. Another friend called to see if I was still alive. My work had gotten behind and my stress levels had reached an all time high. In fact, as I threw my mouse across the room and slammed the door storming out in tears last week, I pretty much out did myself. It was a hell of a performance. Yet even with Faith telling me gently, and my minor car crash telling me a little more clearly, I kept going. I have so much to do – I cant stop now!
Crash number two – more damaging than number one, but still no harm to us. You see where this is going though. So what to do? What do I give up? I already let uni go this semester. Work? I need a little money. Faith’s morning activities? She loves them and loves to see her friends. Charity Event? This may have been a bit much this year…but its over in 3 weeks! Sewing? I need a creative outlet! Friends? They are my family and keep me sane. Cleaning and cooking? for goodness sakes!
And there is the dilemma. They are all important and I love them all. Its a daily battle – sleep or work? sew or blog? work or play? Clean or cook?……….. stop or crash the car.
So as I recall one of my favorite quotes, “Women can have it all…just not all at once”, I try and apply it to my life right now. I may end up being 50 before I have my degree. I may not make the $50k target for the charity event this year. I may get paid less and not be ‘employee of the month’ anymore. I may lose some friends along the way. I may have to drive around in a banged up car because I cant afford the repair bill. I may not arrive to playgroup with freshly baked cake. I may wear the same thing for 3 days…
For me, the over-achieving, perfectionist, control freak, this is hard. This is who I am! I can do it all! I have always managed and excelled. This is how I define myself…this is who I have always been. What will I do if I have to settle for less than this? I feel scared and vulnerable even thinking about it. I feel less than whole. What if I get something other than a distinction?? Will people understand? Will I still be loved? Will it be ok? I feel like I cant be this person who ‘cant do it’. I fear…I may not cope.
But then I look at my girl. My one child. She is what is different. Ive never had her before and so the game rules have changed and I realize some truths. I may cope after all.
I may also learn that life is not a race. I may learn to love myself enough without all the achievements. I may learn that some friends will leave me but some friends will love me even more and call me ‘neuro’ as I lose it (I love you Zoe). I may learn that to live in this crazy individualist world we need to make our own community where we can just ‘hang’, but hang together. (I love you Skye – my hang out and do washing together buddy) I may learn that sleepovers are way cool as an adult with a baby as four hands are better than two (I love you Narrah and Leanne). I may learn that mothering can be lonely…but that I am enough. I am enough for Faith without the daily activities…the planning, the running, the achieving, the games…
I am enough for her. Just me. Just the raspberries. And 3 day old clothes.
I realize there is more to it. She is coming up to 2 – she is VERY independent and likes to do everything herself now. I find that if she does fight getting in that its a combination of me letting her climb in herself, in her own time, and also a reminder to slow the pace. This is working at the moment…stay tuned.